When life gives you quinces..

(Quince and Walnut Crumble Cake)

When life gives you quinces, make quince crumble cake.

It is for those days that rush by too fast. When seasons turn from singlet tops and insects thumping angrily at the screen door, to leaves tumbling onto wet pavements, the scent of wool scarves, the whirr of the stand mixer, the hum of the oven, and suddenly.. quince crumble cake.

It is also for one of those days. We’ve all had them. Usually a cup of tea, a heat pack around my neck and a little grumble to B, sets things straight. Failing that, I call upon ‘the army’.

(Soda Bread)

There are millions of recipes out there for all sorts of simple cakes and breads. I guess the ones I use are no different, but they are so reliable and so delicious that I now consider them part of my personal army. My army battles against such days that defeat and exhaust. I’ve been experiencing many such days recently, and have gratefully discovered that it’s quite soothing to be able to make something simple not only for myself, but to share with others as well.

(Chocolate Chestnut Cake)

The quince crumble cake is my version of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s “apple-cinnamon crumb coffee cake”. I substituted some ingredients and modified the instructions, to simplify the cobbling together of the cake batter. Using my method, the fruit will sink into the cake but I’m okay with that. The heap of crumble on top is a textural delight.

The soda bread recipe, which has now become my daily bread, is by Fergus Henderson. No changes there; it’s as simple as it gets. The (gluten-free) chocolate chestnut cake is from Nigella Lawson’s How to be a Domestic Goddess.

Below are two of the recipes that I hope will find a home within your own army.

Quince and Walnut Crumble Cake :

For the cinnamon crumble :
100g walnut halves
72g light brown sugar
25g caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
65g plain flour
57g unsalted butter, melted

Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the butter and rub it in or toss through to form a crumbly mixture (use your fingers to break any of the larger pieces of walnut into smaller chunks). Set aside.

For the cake :

6 quinces halves, slow cooked in a 60% sugar syrup solution flavoured with vanilla, lemon zest and cinnamon, drained and sliced or chopped into small chunks (or fresh fruit of choice)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
100g + 60g Greek/European-style yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
200g plain flour
170g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
170g unsalted butter, softened

Preheat the oven to 175’C.

In a small bowl, combine the eggs, 60g yogurt and vanilla.

In a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the butter and 100g yogurt. Mix on low until dry ingredients are moistened, then mix on medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Lower the speed and gradually add the egg mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then beat for 30 seconds to fully incorporate all the ingredients.

Spread the batter into a greased and lined 22cm tin. Top with slices of the cooked quince, then the crumble. Bake for about 50 – 60 minutes. A skewer inserted into the cake should come out clean. At about the 30 minute mark, you may want to rotate the cake pan for even browning. At this point if the crumble appears to be browning too quickly, you can also cover the top of the pan with some foil and continue baking.

Soda Bread :
(From Beyond Nose to Tail by Fergus Henderson and Justin Piers Gellatly)

140g wholemeal self-raising flour
140g strong white flour
5g sea salt
10g caster sugar
5g baking powder
125ml water
125ml buttermilk

Mix all the ingredients together by hand in a large mixing bowl (it will be quite wet), then leave the dough to rest in the bowl for 5 minutes.

Shape the dough into a ball and place on a floured baking tray. Sprinkle with flour and cut a cross in the top about 4cm long on each side and 1cm deep. Leave to rest for 10 minutes, then place in an oven preheated to 200’C. Bake for 40 minutes, until golden brown. To test if the loaf is done, turn it over and tap it on the bottom with your finger; if it sounds hollow it is ready. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Serve with plenty of butter.

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  1. Reemski said,

    June 7, 2010 @ 8:37 pm

    Keep those hot packs coming babe.

  2. Rosa said,

    June 7, 2010 @ 8:47 pm

    Everything looks scrumptious, especially that chocolate chestnut cake! Quinces are so delicious and versatile…



  3. penny aka jeroxie said,

    June 7, 2010 @ 9:01 pm

    The chocolate chestnut cake looks divine. I hope you feel warm and better!

  4. Amanda said,

    June 7, 2010 @ 9:03 pm

    I like your style, but I think I’ve said that before! That chocolate chestnut cake look sensational. I hope your cures did their job.

  5. the caked crusader said,

    June 7, 2010 @ 10:02 pm

    I made a quince cake for the first time last week – well worth the time it takes. I love that quince just gets better and better…not that the cake hung around too long to find out!

  6. Forager said,

    June 7, 2010 @ 10:09 pm

    I’m having one of those days right now. But unlike you, I don’t have inspirational bursts of creativity and bake these amazing things. I wish I did – I’d probably cheer myself up quick smart!

  7. Steph said,

    June 7, 2010 @ 10:13 pm

    That is quite an army. I love quince in a crumble and apple crumble cake, so quince crumble cake sounds awesome. Definitely would be perfect for battling those type of days. Quince are kind of magical :)

  8. Anh said,

    June 7, 2010 @ 10:57 pm

    Ah, quince at last :) I haven’t seen them lately in melbourne actually. Not sure why? I want to attempt that failed stuffed quince again :)

  9. Angie's Recipes said,

    June 7, 2010 @ 11:37 pm

    What a delectable chocolate chestnut cake you just baked! Love the artisan look of soda bread.

  10. Asha@FSK said,

    June 8, 2010 @ 12:15 am

    thanks for sharing these wonderful recipes, Y! I know what you mean! Everyone needs an “army” to fall upon sometimes :) Mine is a chocolate pudding brownie.. it always makes me smile again :)

  11. heather said,

    June 8, 2010 @ 12:55 am

    i can’t believe i’ve never eaten a quince yet! some day soon, hopefully. looks great.



  12. grace said,

    June 8, 2010 @ 2:36 am

    down with feelings of defeat and exhaustion! i certainly hope things take a turn for the better for you, y. if there’s one thing that would pick me up after i’ve been let down, it’s a cinnamon crumble. the cake beneath it is just a bonus. :)

  13. Cherine said,

    June 8, 2010 @ 4:24 am

    Everything look scrumptious and gorgeous!!!

  14. Krista said,

    June 8, 2010 @ 4:28 am

    I’m sorry things have been difficult for you lately. I hope you will feel loved and encouraged and supported this week. So glad you have these beautiful recipes to nourish your heart and body. :-)

  15. Andrea Mitchell said,

    June 8, 2010 @ 4:46 am

    Hi there!

    We’ve selected you as our Foodista Food Blog of the Day for June 18th! This post for quince cake will be featured on the Foodista homepage for 24 hours. This is a new feature that we recently launched and are thrilled to post your blog.

    Since you are now a part of the Foodista Featured Blogger of The Day Community, we’ve created a special badge for you to display proudly on your blog sidebar. I couldn’t find your email on your blog to send you the access code for the special badge, but I want to make sure you get it if you are interested. Please send me an email and I’ll send it right away.
    We are really enjoying your blog and look forward to seeing your recipes, tips and techniques on Foodista! If you would not like to be recognized on Foodista please let me know and I will remove your blog from our queue.


    Andrea Mitchell

  16. HoneyBadger said,

    June 8, 2010 @ 6:25 am

    Mmmm…quince cake. Also, fyi, I think your link from foodgawker is broken.

  17. Sophie said,

    June 8, 2010 @ 6:56 am

    Waw,..beautiful presented dishes!! I so love the chocolate & chestnut cake!!

    The soda bread looks equally tasty!

  18. arfi said,

    June 8, 2010 @ 8:03 am

    have you tried to make quince paste? i’d like to try some if quinces are widely available in NZ. pretty dishes you’ve got there.

  19. shez said,

    June 8, 2010 @ 9:58 am

    I have 1x casserole dish of baked quinces sitting neglected in my fridge that need to be turned into something to whet an appetite. Serendipity abounds :)

    (and thanks for the extra soldiers. I could do with half an army right about now)

  20. Tara said,

    June 8, 2010 @ 12:50 pm

    Oh, I love quince! Their season is a long ways off around here, though. And that chocolate chestnut cake: does it contain chestnut flour? I bought some the other day, and am now wondering what to put it in first.

  21. Lee Tran Lam said,

    June 8, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

    I would trust any military force led by your well-intentioned, baking ways! Glad the combined power of the oven & quinces & flour & baking time are proving to be life-savers.

  22. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said,

    June 8, 2010 @ 1:30 pm

    I love that chocolate chestnut cake! Although as I tend to do, I served it up in rather large slices and paired it with rich Nutella ice cream. ‘Twas a bit too rich methinks!! 😛

  23. bake in paris said,

    June 8, 2010 @ 2:26 pm

    I love the simplicity in your photos. They are calming and yet sophisticated!

    Sawadee from Bangkok,

  24. Howard said,

    June 8, 2010 @ 3:05 pm

    Everyone has those days indeed, sadly my army does more harm to me than good. It consists of McDonalds chicken nuggets, fries and a coke.

  25. anna said,

    June 8, 2010 @ 5:52 pm

    The worst part about spring and summer? No quinces.

  26. Taz said,

    June 8, 2010 @ 7:03 pm

    yum, the quince cake sounds delicious. I wish life would give me an abundance of quinces! The chestnut and chocolate cake sounds amazing too!

  27. Melissa said,

    June 8, 2010 @ 11:01 pm

    Your Quince and Walnut Crumble Cake will most certainly be joining my army of recipes. There is always room for one more!

  28. Hannah said,

    June 8, 2010 @ 11:05 pm

    I’ve still never had the luck to find a quince here, so I still don’t know what they taste like.. That cake still looks mighty delicious, though!

  29. Wizzythestick said,

    June 9, 2010 @ 6:27 am

    Love the black background to these pictures! You are as talented a photographer as you are a baker:-)

  30. Caitlin said,

    June 9, 2010 @ 11:17 am

    Yes! I’ve been waiting for that soda bread recipe since you first mentioned it – looks fabulous! And I 100% get you on “those days.” I’ve had a number of them this summer, and sans oven, I’ve been reverting to running as my stress relief. But any of those simple baked goods sounds like a perfect way to get out of a bad mood. So I hope they’ve been working :)

  31. foodwink said,

    June 9, 2010 @ 11:52 am

    Love all the three pictures that you took … especially the choc chestnut cake. Thanks for sharing the recipes.

    I am not good at baking and sometimes not even good at following recipes to reproduce what you would see on those fabulous cookbooks … well I shall redeem myself and attempt your soda bread!

  32. faithy said,

    June 9, 2010 @ 7:43 pm

    Wow..all the 3 photos look so good! I esp. like the choc chestnut cake but probably cos it has choc in it..lol! Your instructions to the soda bread is so simple that it makes me want to bake one now! Thanks for sharing!

  33. Mowie @ Mowielicious said,

    June 10, 2010 @ 12:41 am

    I’m not usually a fan of dark backgrounds but your photos here are gorgeous, sumptuous and divine – very classy.

  34. Lynnette said,

    June 10, 2010 @ 3:39 am

    Chocolate Chestnut Cake (looks fabulous!), Quince Walnut Cake (oh yeah) and soda bread (bring it on)……..oh my!

  35. cakebrain said,

    June 10, 2010 @ 3:42 am

    I haven’t had a quince yet; nor have I had any desserts with quinces. What a shame. You ought to give me a slice to try!

  36. Chef Dennis said,

    June 10, 2010 @ 9:06 am

    what a great recipe with the quince…..I do have to try and make something with them! and your chocolate chestnut cake looks to die for!!!!

  37. Cakelaw said,

    June 10, 2010 @ 1:28 pm

    The quince crumble cake looks devine! I have never cooked with quince before, but this tempts me to try.

  38. Simon @ the heart of food said,

    June 10, 2010 @ 3:32 pm

    Oh. I thought you were going to make a refreshing glass of quinceaide.

    I can only imagine the winter-warming potential of your quince cake, served warm with a rich custard.

    Make, I feel like some cake right about now :)

  39. Arwen from Hoglet K said,

    June 11, 2010 @ 4:15 am

    You’ve got a great colour from the quinces. I love the moisture of pieces of fruit in cakes. That chocolate cake looks gorgeous too! Keep that army working for a better week!

  40. Cannelle Et Vanille said,

    June 11, 2010 @ 6:04 am

    ahhhh quince….!!! it’s hard to think about them now when is so hot here but i always look forward to them in the autumn. delicious looking cake!

  41. veron said,

    June 11, 2010 @ 12:21 pm

    Love crumb cakes, can’t wait for the quince to come out here.

  42. Sweets By Vicky said,

    June 12, 2010 @ 5:30 pm

    Such a timely recipe to have! I have these apricots that are dreadfully sour so I’m guessing they’ll be delicious in this cake!

  43. Laetitia said,

    June 15, 2010 @ 4:59 am

    I’ll have to wait a few months to enjoy your recipe’s flavours… saddely!

  44. Elina said,

    June 15, 2010 @ 9:51 am

    I just found your blog. I’m obsessed with your pictures!! How did you get so good? Do you do this professionally too? You should :)

  45. my little expat kitchen said,

    June 15, 2010 @ 9:36 pm

    Great recipe for quinces. I can’t wait till autumn to try this! Looks delicious!

  46. Barbara said,

    June 16, 2010 @ 1:17 am

    I’m so glad I popped in today because I’ve always wanted to make something with quince. And it’s got a lovely crumble on top too! Super recipe!

  47. Juliana said,

    June 16, 2010 @ 5:29 am

    WOW, everything looks so yummie, I never had quinces…would love to try it :-)
    The pictures are awesome, it sure reflect the yumminest of the desserts 😉

  48. Su-yin said,

    June 16, 2010 @ 7:12 am

    Both the cakes look utterly delicious. Will definitely try making this soon. Thanks for the recipes!

  49. Fig and Cherry said,

    June 22, 2010 @ 1:08 pm

    I absolutely adore the shot of the choc chestnut cake, the colour contrast, simplicity and most importantly the elegant shadows. One of my favourite shots of yours!

  50. Big Boys Oven said,

    June 23, 2010 @ 4:44 pm

    babe you did it again! yet another refine piece of baking! a sure win into my heart definitely! :)

  51. Val said,

    June 28, 2010 @ 7:06 pm

    That all looks incredible and goes to show that even if something is simple to make it can still impress. I’ve also been feeling sapped of energy and have been on a constant look-out for easy and delicious recipes :-)

  52. Megan @ FeastingonArt said,

    June 29, 2010 @ 11:56 pm

    Love the dark background, reminds me of a still life! Always a pleasure visiting your blog although I always leave hungry!

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